24 August 2015 - The Incredible Correlation Between Property Prices and Property Sales Volumes
21 August 2015 - Knowledge Apps, Outsourcing Offshoots, Booming Boutiques and Meditation Feature at Legal Innovation Awards
19 August 2015 - A New Trading Platform for Lawyers to Buy and Sell Legal Precedents
17 August 2015 - SAI Global Wins Major Client
SAI Global Limited has announced that it has executed a contract to provide national mortgage settlement services for NAB Broker, a part of the National Australia Bank.
SAI Global further announced that it expects to commence providing services to NAB Broker under the new contract in October 2015. Full incremental annual revenue of circa A$9M will be recognised from financial year 2017 onwards. Circa A$3M is expected to be generated in FY16.
Peter Mullins, CEO of SAI Global said: "I am delighted that NAB Broker has selected SAI as its national provider of mortgage settlement services. The fact that this leading financial institution has chosen SAI to undertake these services on its behalf is further testament to the strength and capability of SAI Global's Property team which continues to achieve significant outcomes such as this for the Company".
17 August 2015 - LexisNexis Recognised for Advancing Rule of Law
12 August 2015 - Study Reveals: Why Plead Guilty?
10 August 2015 - Launch of a Startup Community for the Legal Sector
7 August 2015 - Legal Innovator Finalists Announced
From the creator of a legal and life hacks magazine for young Australians to the first Australian iOS app on criminal and traffic law, this year’s Innovation Index has been the most contested yet and shows strong representation from local specialist legal firms.
“Innovation has certainly grown from a ‘buzz word’ to a direction in which we are looking to take the business of law in Australia”, explains Jo Beckett, General Manager of LexisNexis Australia. “As a result the 2015 Legal Innovation Index has had more than double the entries of last year, with both companies and individuals presenting a fantastic array of new and re-imagined business practices, tools and ways of thinking to the local legal sector”.
The finalists from the Organisations category are: AdventBalance, Allens, Creevey Russell Lawyers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Envato’s legal team, Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills, Daniel Lew Le Mercier & Co, KWS Legal, LawPath, McCullough Robertson Lawyers, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pace Lawyers, RMB Lawyers, Sparke Helmore Lawyers, Sydney Criminal Lawyers, The Fold Legal, and View Legal.
For the first time, Individuals from practice, academia and students have been eligible to enter. The rollcall of finalists are: Matthew Burgess, Director, View Legal; Sarah Lynch, Founder & CEO, Bucket Orange magazine; Brennan Ong, Managing Director, LawAdvisor; Cathy Sherry, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales; Adi Snir, Head of Content, LegalVision; and Dominic Woolrych, Legal Product Manager, LawPath.
“Just when you could be forgiven for thinking that innovation in the legal profession in Australia has peaked, finalists in the 2015 Index clearly demonstrate the profession’s absolute commitment to continuing to find new and dynamic ways for adding significant and previously untapped value for firms and their clients,” adds Justin North, Director, Janders Dean.
The 2015 Legal Innovation Index winners will be announced at a Sydney event on 20 August 2015.
5 August 2015 - Shine Lawyers Acquires WA PI Firm
Shine Corporate Limited has announced the acquisition of Bradley Bayly, a leading legal specialist in the personal injuries and large catastrophic injuries sector in Western Australia for a consideration of $13.275M. The acquisition will be largely debt funded with a small scrip component of $1M.
"We are delighted to have Bradley Bayly join the Shine Group," said Mr Morrison. "In addition to meeting our strategic acquisition criteria, the firm has similar cultures and values and will contribute to Shine's future earnings growth as synergies are realised. The acquisition delivers a strategic expansion opportunity and the transaction underscores our commitment to becoming the leader and provider of choice in Western Australia."
Key features of the acquisitions, announced to the ASX, are:
· Total consideration of $13.275M.
· Cash component of $8.275M with $4.0M deferred.
· Scrip component $1.0M
· EPS accretive
· Acquisition expected to settle by 14 August 2015
5 August 2015 - Slater & Gordon Shares - When Will the Half Price Sale End?
Finally, a commentator is saying that the huge plunge in Slater & Gordon's share price is a huge overreaction.
Dow Jones News: “Hoping that investors will slowly begin to look beyond an accounting scandal that has rocked law firm Slater & Gordon (SGH.AU), George Gabriel, a Melbourne-based equities analyst at brokerage Wilson HTM Investment Group, has reaffirmed his buy rating on the stock…”
It is interesting to observe the ASX share price commentating business from which George Gabriel stands out as an exception. If the case of S&G shares is typical, when a share price is riding high the commentating pack says buy, buy and buy. After a share price plunge the pack bleats hold or sell (exhibit A++).
When there is a touch of bad news about a company, or better still the whiff of a scandal, the short sellers pile in as the smell of a quick profit becomes too great to resist.
The extent of the decline in the market capitalisation of the company is roughly equivalent to the value of the capital raised to acquire the UK Quindell PSD business. It is almost as if the market has priced the acquisition out of existence.
Slater & Gordon has acquired practices in the past that have been tainted by scandal, notably the Keddies practice. It has experience with such acquisitions and the market may have forgotten this key part of its history.
The equities analyst, George Gabriel was reported to have a 12 month target for the stock of $7.95, which implies an opportunity to more than double one’s money from yesterday’s closing price of $3.38.
Disclaimer: no investment advice or predictions are intended here. Read news report about the George Gabriel analysis here.
Red line: S&G Share Price. Blue Line: All Ordinaries Index
3 August 2015 - Between You and a New Client is The Internet
29 July 2015 - Sole Practitioners - We're Hiring
27 July 2015 - Queensland Conveyancing Returns to Growth
In the first three months of calendar 2015, Brisbane dwelling values were slightly down and Queensland property transfers were around 4% lower than the year before.
In the three months to June 2015, Brisbane dwelling values increased by 1.4% (Corelogic RP Data) and the State's property sales volumes were 7% higher than the year before.
The factor that most likely caused the turnaround was the RBA's interest rate tweak. At the beginning of May 2015 the Reserve Bank reduced the cash rate by 0.25% to 2.00%.
Fortnightly volume of Queensland property transfers (mid July data points highlighted)
20 July 2015 - In-House Growth Ends with a Crash
16 July 2015 - When Property Prices Fall
What can we expect to happen to conveyancing activity when property prices fall? Last financial year to June 2015, combined capital city dwelling values increased by 9.8%. That was the third year in a row of rising property prices. Perth went against the trend experiencing a small decline in dwelling values of -0.9% for the year, including -0.2% for the last quarter.
The volume of property transfers in Western Australia was down by 13% for the three months to June 2015 compared to the equivalent period of the year before. If the Western Australia scenario represents a pattern, then it appears that a small decline in property prices will be associated with a magnified decline in sales volumes.
Source: Core Logic RP Data
14 July 2015 - Online Platform LawAdvisor Launches
13 July 2015 - Top 3 Trends from the Half Year Report Card on the Legal Industry
8 July 2015 - Where to Learn About the Hidden Drivers of Innovation in Legal Practice
6 July 2015 - For Lawyers, Marketing Means Content Marketing
3 July 2015 - 56 Law Firms Sign Up to Content Marketing Platform
2 July 2015 - Moores revolutionises the legal sector with innovative Not-for-Profit Assist legal hotline
30 June 2015 - Half Price Winter Sale on Slater & Gordon Shares
Slater & Gordon's share price ended the day yesterday at $3.78 representing a price which is 53% lower than its peak of $8.07 reached only two months ago. Investors who took up shares in the April 2015 $890 million capital raising would be experiencing a capital loss of around 40% at yesterday's closing share price.
Legal Practice Intelligence will be investigating further as to whether this sudden panic has any justification based on its business fundamentals. At this stage it shows the signs of being a completely overblown market reaction which could be a share buying opportunity.
29 June 2015 - How Are The Big Firms Responding to Increasing Competition from Talented Contractors?
24 June 2015 - Tension Rising as Promised Funding From 1 July for CLCs Stalls
18 June 2015 - Sydney is Famous for The Highest Property Prices. What is Melbourne Famous For?
Some time after the arrival of the First Fleet, Sydney property prices starting rising. With a few exceptions every now and then, prices having been on the up, so that Sydney has the highest median home values amongst all Australian capital cities. Over the last 12 months home values have risen by 15% - to May 2015. In Melbourne the increase was 9%. Melbourne’s property market has a distinctive feature as well.
Using state statistics as a proxy, the number of property transfers in Victoria for the past six months was 100,277. The number in NSW was 106,907. The population of NSW is 29% higher than Victoria yet there is less than a 7% difference in the volume of property transfers between the two states. This is not the first time we have observed this phenomenon.
People in Sydney have a reputation for being obsessed about property prices. Perhaps Melbournians are obsessed about buying and selling property. Sydney is famous for having the highest property prices while Melbourne looks like it is becoming famous as the property trading capital of Australia.
16 June 2015 - Crowdfunding of Legal Needs is a Worldwide Trend and Now Taking Off in Australia
15 June 2015 - The Company Secretary Career Path for Lawyers
Excerpts from Mahlab's recent Company Secretary Roundtable Report:
Over the past decade, there has been a trend towards recruiting company secretary professionals who also hold law degrees. This is now filtering down to the assistant company secretary level. The pool of candidates with a legal qualification, in addition to proven company secretary experience, is relatively small. It is further reduced when there is a requirement for experience gained within an ASX-listed company.
The regulatory environment and increased focus on risk has meant that in many companies there is a preference for company secretaries with legal qualifications. It is argued that having a qualification in the law adds rigour to the role, and it is apparent that there is an increasing demand for such qualifications, particularly as the scope widens to include increased corporate governance responsibilities.
The role of the company secretary has broadened in scope in recent years to encompass risk management, corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
One of the major challenges confronting company secretaries relates to remuneration and how the role is to be adequately measured. Remuneration for company secretary positions is generally between $200,000 and $370,000 and this has remained steady in recent times, despite increasing responsibilities and role scope.
In February 2015 the Reserve Bank reduced the cash rate by 0.25% to 2.25%. In March and April 2015 combined, property transfers were up 14% compared to the same period in 2014 and up 38% compared to 2013.
At the beginning of May 2015, the Reserve Bank reduced the cash rate by another 0.25% to 2.00%. On that occasion, the property market, particularly the Sydney market, took it in its stride.
According to CoreLogic, Sydney dwelling values fell by 0.7% during May 2015. Sydney unit values (apartments) fell 2.8% in May 2015.
Falling property prices usually correlate with lower property sales volumes. CoreLogic property listing statistics (for Sydney) show that the number of dwellings offered for sale in May 2015 was 25% lower than in May 2014. Fewer listings mean fewer sales.
Property transfers in May 2015 were 2% lower than May 2014, although still 7% higher than two years ago.
Who is buying properties in Sydney? The below chart is for all of Australia but the picture conveys an unmistakable message. Investors are driving the swings in the property market, not unlike the way they drive the swings in the share market.
Slater & Gordon has signed on as a sponsor and official legal partner of the Brisbane Broncos. This follows Queensland headquartered Shine Lawyers' recent announcement to sponsor the AFL Geelong Cats, which happens to be in Slater & Gordon's home state of Victoria.
The Victorians have hit back hard with this sponsorship. Queensland has been a weak spot for the Slater & Gordon business and this move has to help. What could be next? The Maroons State of Origin team is probably out of reach financially for law firms but as the stakes keep getting raised, it could be the ultimate sponsorship target.
9 June 2015 - Two Community Legal Centres Face Closure
4 June 2015 - PEXA Extends Functionality to Home Buyers and Sellers
3 June 2015 - Cats v Dogs with Personal Injury Firms' Sponsorships
The football promotional season has kicked off with Geelong Cats (AFL) announcing a new partnership with Shine Lawyers, “to assist in its’ Victorian expansion and new branch in the Geelong CBD,” as reported at geelongcats.com.au.
“Supporting local sporting clubs is an important part of our continued commitment to the people we provide legal assistance to every day. It’s another way we can get to know our clients and listen to their needs and hear about the big issues affecting them and their families,” said Katalin Blond, Shine Lawyers General Manager Victoria.
AFL is the “home game” of Slater & Gordon which has a partnership with the Western Bulldogs.
29 May 2015 - PEXA - The Future of Property Settlement
29 May 2015 - Fisher Adams Kelly Acquired for $26.5m
27 May 2015 - How Do You Sell Legal Services to Gen Y Legal Consumers?
25 May 2015 - There Are Now 66,211 Practising Solicitors in Australia
21 May 2015 - PEXA to Launch in Queensland and Western Australia Next Week
Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) has seen great results since its launch in New South Wales and Victoria in November 2014. There has been more than $1 billion in property value exchanged online across 23,000 transactions and PEXA is now preparing for the next phase of its release.
PEXA will be going live in Queensland and Western Australia next week, which means:
• In QLD - Lawyers will be able to access the PEXA workspace and complete caveats and stand-alone settlement notices.
• In WA - Lawyers and Settlement Agents (Conveyancers) will be able to access the PEXA workspace for caveats, transfers and settlements.
20 May 2015 - Sparke Helmore is Open Sourcing Financing Precedents
Click each of the two images below to learn more:
19 May 2015 - Plan to Replace Justice with Social Security
Legal profession says NIIS won’t cope with demand
Two-thirds of Australian personal injury lawyers feel that the Government’s National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS) is underfunded, with nearly half saying the system won’t cope with expected demand, according to a new survey of legal professionals released today. Read more
15 May 2015 - The Search for the Most Innovative Law Firms and Individuals
13 May 2015 - Budget 2015 and Access to Justice
11 May 2015 - Lawyers Will be Able to Bypass the Migration Agent Regulation Scheme
8 May 2015 - Practising Law as if the Future Has Already Arrived
6 May 2015 - International innovation internship – A first for Aussie legal industry?
From the blog of Adelaide law firm Kain C + C Lawyers:
In what some commentators are calling a ‘first’ in the Australian legal industry, Adelaide-based Kain C+C Lawyers is opening its doors to a Michigan State University law student to improve its business.
When MSU Law announced the inaugural Kain Innovation Internship on Twitter last week, it attracted huge attention from the US and here in Australia.
“Congratulations. A first?” asked legal services guru, George Beaton.
Whilst being first wasn’t the reason for creating the internship, it certainly demonstrates that Kain is serious about unlocking innovation in its business.
4 May 2015 - IP Firms Keen to Cash-In Partnership Equity. Sparke Helmore Halts Listing Plans as it Loses an Insurance Team to Hall and Wilcox
29 April 2015 - The Largest Technology Survey Ever Undertaken in the Australian Legal Services Sector
30,000 legal, conveyancing and business professionals across the nation are being asked to give their views about technology and the practice of law.
The survey is being conducted by GlobalX Legal Solutions who will make the results available to all.
From the results we will learn what new technologies are currently of most interest to the profession. It might be mobile, the cloud, e-conveyancing or something else. One survey question asks which technology trends are keeping you up at night?
An open-ended question asks what things you wish technology could improve in your firm.
Legal Practice Intelligence is unaware of any technology survey previously undertaken at this scale.
The survey is currently open and concludes on 11 May 2015
23 April 2015 - Launch of Micro-Blogging and Social Networking Platform for Lawyers
22 April 2015 - Cooler Winter Likely for WA Property Sales
Western Australia - Monthly Property Transfers March of each year highlighted to show trend
Although spring is usually thought of as the start of the prime selling season for property, the last two winters in Western Australia have been red hot. The timing of mining booms and interest rates cuts have taken precedence over the conventional property selling seasons.
In the Perth housing market, dwelling values have declined by 2.7% for the three months to March 2015 (CoreLogic RP Data). Unlike the last two winters, without a surprise interest rate cut, this winter's conveyancing activity is likely to be significantly cooler.
20 April 2015 - New Online Service Could Become the TripAdvisor of the Australian Legal Profession
16 April 2015 - Law Firm Marketing Beyond Grey Suits and Rugby Jerseys
14 April 2015 - Asian-Australian Lawyers Diversity Study Released
11 April 2015 - Asian-Australian Lawyers Identify Bamboo Ceiling
8 April 2015 - Queensland Conveyancing Activity Down
According to the most recently available data, Queensland property transfers are 4% lower than last year. This is for the eight weeks to 21 March 2015 compared to the equivalent period last year. It is still 16% higher than two years ago. The reduction in sales activity coincides with falling home values over the month of March 2015 as well as the March 2015 quarter – as shown by the CoreLogic RP Data dwelling value statistics below.
7 April 2015 - Trade Mark Attorneys Buy Software Business for $8m
1 April 2015 - Welcome to Another Multinational Law Firm
If you type into Google “global law firm arrives in Australia” you get 11.3 million results.
Not too long ago a multinational law firm arriving in Australia meant that a large local firm would be changing its letterhead and cranking up its charge out rates. A new multinational law firm meant globalising hundreds of Aussie lawyers while the rest of the market looked on in shock and awe.
The market gasped at the creation of Norton Rose, Herbert Smith Freehills, Allens Linklaters and K&L Gates.
When there were no more big local firms to go around, the globals combined with smaller firms such as with the establishment of Bird & Bird in Australia.
Nowadays the establishment of a global law firm in Australia is heralded with the lateral movement - also known as poaching - of a handful or fewer local lawyers.
And the global law firms are arriving at a rapid rate. If the pattern in March 2015 persists then we are likely to see two new global law firms setting up in Australia every month.
In March we had news of the arrival of Pinsent Masons and now Hogan Lovells.
The secret is well and truly out that Australia is in great need of more multinational law firms.
30 March 2015 - How Big is the Latest Slater & Gordon Acquisition?
S&G is in the final stages of tying up a deal to acquire the Professional Services Division (PSD) of Quindell in the UK. PSD provides legal services and complementary services. How big is this acquisition?
“…a decade ago a real alternative to the big-firm model in professional services was not clear. Today it seems likely that the world's largest professional services providers will operate in a virtual marketplace.”
“If you can hit the Uber app to get a ride when you need it, why wouldn't you do the same to find the right lawyer at the push of a button?”
“...clients often can't find or afford services at big firms and elite talent is hungry for a different way to offer, charge for and deliver their expertise.”
Matt Faustman, co-founder of US-based online platform UpCounsel, comments on client needs, "The top four priorities we are hearing are price, responsiveness, efficient discovery and transparency," he says.
Botsman writes, “the economic rationale for a traditional firm structure is collapsing. And the labour market is where it could create the most destruction.”
27 March 2015 - Lawyers to The Australian Olympic Team
24 March 2015 - Five Year Predictions of Employment Numbers for Solicitors and Secretaries
Economists at the Federal Government Department of Employment have predicted that the number of secretaries employed in Australia will decline by 22.3% over the five years from November 2014 to November 2019.
Projected employment for solicitors is an increase over five years of 21.1%.
Over the past two years the economy has grown by about 2.5% per annum. A 21.1% increase over five years equates to an annual growth rate of around 4%.
According to the prediction, there will be 22.3% fewer secretaries employed in November 2019 than there were in November 2014. The prediction covers all secretaries and not just legal secretaries. Why the pessimistic prediction? Perhaps it is a case of less expensive technology replacing more expensive labour. The background analysis is not provided with the statistics.
Surprisingly, the growth predicted for “All Occupations” is only 10%.
High growth fields of employment are predicted to be in Health and Personal Services. For example, the employment of Anaesthetists is projected to increase 30.6% over five years.
The predicted decline in the employment of Secretaries puts this category fourth from the bottom, with the bottom of the table at negative 24.7%.
18 March 2015 - Ex-Melbourne Arm of ILH Emerges as R.B. Flinders
In July 2012, ILH Group began acquiring equity in Melbourne-based commercial law firm Rockwell Bates. Over time it acquired 49% of the equity. In July 2012 Rockwell Bates was generating $4 million in revenue.
The Managing Principal of the firm, Adam Levine, has freed his firm from the ILH Group (now in Administration) and is re-launching the firm as R.B. Flinders. Under ILH the firm had been trading with the Rockwell Olivier brand.
According to AFR reporting "It's understood Levine has agreed to terms with KordaMentha [the Administrator], will take full control of the firm..."
Adam Levine - Executive Chairman
George Spiliotis - Managing Principal
John Gdanski - Principal
Troy Palmer - Principal
R.B. Flinders is broadening its service offering compared to the original Rockwell Bates commercial law firm. It is offering a lot more private client and personal law services including: 24/7 Legal Helpline, Legal Expense Insurance Solutions, Conveyancing, Family Law and Disputed Wills and Estates.
17 March 2015 - Insurance Litigation Firm Growing With The Aid of Fixed Fees
16 March 2015 - No Retreat for Victoria Conveyancing Activity
The RBA's healthy attitude to interest rates has contributed to an unabated climb in Victoria's property sales activity.
Year on year home values in Melbourne are up 7.37% to February 2015. For the three months to February 2015 home values are up 4.5% (Source: RP Data Index). The rate of growth in home values is slowing down but as long as it is positive, then the greatest probability is that property sales volumes will continue to climb.
February 2015 property transfers are up 3.5% compared to 12 months ago; up 27% compared to two years ago and up 15% compared to three years ago.
10 March 2015 - Now We Know What Happens When a Publicly Listed Law Firm Goes Under
7 March 2015 - Maddocks Loses Heavyweights For Australian Launch of Pinsents Masons
Click above image to read details
(image: website screenshot)
5 March 2015 - NSW Conveyancing Activity Up Again
In February 2015, NSW property transfers were up 12% compared to February 2014. This is a turnaround because December 2014 and January 2015 combined were down by 5% compared to 12 months ago.
February 2015 property transfers were up by 12% compared to 12 months ago but compared to 24 months ago (February 2013) it is up by 38%.
The December and January figures started to point to a tempering trend in property sales after a buoyant calendar 2014. If there was a most likely factor for the latest surge in activity, it is probably the change in interest rate sentiment, actualised with a rate cut one month ago.
Property prices and share prices have benefited from the change in sentiment on interest rates. As usual, when property prices are on the up so is conveyancing activity.
3 March 2015 - LegalVision Secures $1.2m Angel Round
Since 1 July 2014, Shine Lawyers (Shine) has made a number of acquisitions: Stephen Brown Personal Injury Lawyers (WA), Emanate Legal (Qld), Sciaccas Lawyers Pty Ltd and Sciaccas Family Lawyers Pty Ltd (Qld).
Shine has reported revenue of $73.1m for the six months to December 2014. The (normalised) EBITDA on this revenue was $22m or 30% of revenue.
The 2015 half year revenue was $16.5m higher than the 2014 equivalent period.
Acquired practices contributed $14.3m of this $16.5m increase. Therefore, Shine’s revenue growth excluding these acquisitions was 3.8%.
Last financial year (2013/14), Shine reported annual revenue of $115.5m and EBITDA of $34.2m (29.6%).
How is Shine performing? An EBITDA margin of 30% is around 6% better than Slater & Gordon’s 2015 first half result. The main factor in the difference is staff costs. Shine has managed to keep these to around 46% of operating revenue.
The Emanate and Stephen Browne acquisitions have increased Shine's revenue for the half year and even more significantly, boosted profitability.